Ben Stokes targets against-the-odds Ashes win despite England’s loss at Lord’s

The hosts were beaten in a controversial second Test and need to win the remaining three Tests in the series.

Rory Dollard
Monday 03 July 2023 04:30 BST
Ben Stokes questions ‘spirit of the game’ after controversial Jonny Bairstow dismissal

Ben Stokes insists England can still pull off an Ashes victory against the odds, after Jonny Bairstow’s controversial dismissal helped Australia take a 2-0 lead at a furious Lord’s.

In an unforgettable fifth day finish at the home of cricket, the tourists were heckled and booed from the field after wrapping up a 43-run success despite Stokes’ best efforts.

He hit a jaw-dropping 155, whipped into a six-hitting frenzy by Bairstow’s bizarre stumping by Alex Carey, but could not take his side all the way.

Carey threw down his fellow wicketkeeper’s stumps after Bairstow ducked a Cameron Green bouncer, tapped his bat behind the crease and began to walk down the pitch to chat with Stokes.

Bairstow felt the over had been completed, which would have rendered the ball dead, but Carey’s intervention was deemed to be within the laws of the game and the wicket stood.

Nearly 32,000 fans in the stands went apoplectic and things even took an angry turn in the usually polite confines of the Long Room, where Usman Khawaja and David Warner exchanged words with jeering members. Marylebone Cricket Club later suspended the membership of three individuals pending an investigation.

Would I want to win a game in that manner? The answer for me is no

Ben Stokes on Jonny Bairstow's dismissal

Stokes made it clear the manner of the Bairstow wicket left a bitter taste and suggested he may have withdrawn the appeal in similar circumstances.

“The first thing that needs to be said is that it is out. But would I want to win a game in that manner? The answer for me is no,” he said.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have a deep think about the whole spirit of the game. If I was fielding captain at the time I would have put a lot more pressure on the umpires to ask them what their decision was around the (end of the) over.

“Jonny was in his crease, then left his crease to come out and have the conversation between overs like every batsman does. For Australia it was the matchwinning moment.”

With Australia also coming out on top in a tense finish in the series opener at Edgbaston, Stokes’ side now face the prospect of becoming the first England team since 2001 to lose a home Ashes.

To win the urn back they need to win at Headingley when battle resumes on Thursday and then do the same at Old Trafford and The Oval.

“All we’re thinking about is winning the series 3-2,” he said.

“We have to win these three games to get this urn back and we’re a team who are obviously willing to put ourselves out there and do things against the narrative.

All we're thinking about is winning the series

Ben Stokes

“So, these next three games are an even better opportunity for us than we have ever found ourselves in before.”

Anticipating an even more feverish atmosphere in Leeds next week, Stokes added: “I definitely think it’s going to be ramped up.

“When we go to Australia we get lambasted as well – 90,000 Australians at the MCG cursing at you. That’s part of the sport we play, you get thousands of people who want their team to win and they’ll just jump on something.”

Australia captain Pat Cummins was visibly taken aback by the vitriolic reaction he experienced but made no apologies for the Bairstow wicket.

“It’s in the laws, totally fair play. That’s how I saw it,” he said.

“You see Jonny do it all the time, he did it day one to (David) Warner and in 2019 to Steve (Smith). It’s what keepers do if you see an opportunity. All credit to Carey, he rolled it at the stumps, Jonny left his crease and you leave the rest to the umpires.”

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